One way we can build a more resilient occupation movement is to form affinity groups. A network of committed groups of people that know and trust one another can be stronger and more prepared then a collection of individuals trying to work as one occupation. An affinity group is made up of a small group of trusted friends or co-workers that share values or interests. Most affinity groups have between 5 to 15 participants. They make decisions as a group using the consensus process. Your affinity group could have a focus in support of the occupation. One affinity group may be united around providing medical support, another may be active in the kitchen, anther affinity group may focus on sanitation or be dedicated to keeping the grounds clean and another might design posters and other publications, play music together or organize puppet shows at the occupation. Others may work with legal support or help develop strategy or logistics. Each affinity group could also have more personal interests that bind them such as a love of a type of music or historical period. Maybe you know everyone in your affinity group because you attended the same school or lived in the same area of town.

The affinity group structure has a long history in helping promote change. We organized into affinity groups when we organized to stop the nuclear power industry in the 1970s and 80s. Some affinity groups would meet once a week to make decisions. Several participants would agree to risk arrest during protests while others would agree to remain free to provide support. The support people would be prepared to water house plants, walk dogs and call the family and employers of those arrested. They would also help the lawyers keep track of the affinity group members as they move through the jail and court system.

The longer you work as an affinity group the more confident you will be that your participation in the occupations will be safe and effective. Your affinity group might prepare by running or biking together to maintain physical strength. affinity groups may bond by reading the same book and discussing it much as one would do in a book club. Some affinity groups do yoga or ti chi together, go on hikes, bike rides or play soccer as a group.

Once your affinity group is formed you may send tow or three members to the general assembly to join the discussion. If the general assemblies are more of a spokes council made up of a few people from every affinity group it may be possible to form deeper proposals.

More on affinity groups

Starhawk on affinity groups

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